Sky | Lift, the Sunnyside label debut of pianist Randy Ingram and most welcome and overdue successor to 2009s The Road Ahead (Brooklyn Jazz Underground), announces itself immediately as an album of warmth, openness, buoyancy, thoughtfulness and optimism, and maintains a course reflective of these qualities in both clear-eyed and true fashion right through to its finish. The musicians – Mike Moreno (g); Matt Clohesy (b); Jochen Rueckert (d) and Mr. Ingram – reveal themselves to be both individualistically richly talented and a swinging, cohesive and communicative unit.
All compositions except pianist Bill Evans’ Time Remembered are the work of the Alaskan-born, SoCal raised and current Brooklyn, NY resident pianist and session leader, with the first four tracks alternating quartet and trio performances respectively. The disc’s first and title track takes off in suspended fashion, as if floating on air or contemplating the sky above, inexorably building, during and following solo turns from Mr. Ingram and Mr. Moreno, towards its exciting and uplifting conclusion. At 12:00 minutes in length, the longest cut on the album, 99 hews close to its underlying rhythmic essence throughout. Proceeding with more linearity than its musical companions do, it’s a work that’s both grippingly propelling and solidly anchored, often offering a near-mesmeric listening experience. The spotlight rests almost entirely squarely on Mr. Ingram for the album’s two trio tracks, Silent Cinema, a work of melodious, low-lit melodrama and the airier and brighter Time Remembered. Whether a name-checked salute to the Missourian city, a tribute to Mr. Armstrong, or something else entirely, ‘St. Louis’ is a winningly effervescent number, with Mr. Moreno and Mr. Ingram, in that order, contributing solos.
If interest has thus far been peaked, then rest assured the remaining three quartet tracks, The Sea, Late Romantic and the nakedly upbeat and concluding Nicky fulsomely maintain and extend the many and varied qualities described heretofore. Both Bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jochen Rueckert contribute in sturdy and often suitably subtle fashion throughout.
It’s sometimes possible to listen to a jazz quartet and imagine it, whether through want or necessity, as a quintet or a sextet. In the case of this quartet, their sonic signature is so pleasing, exacting and precisely balanced as to render that imagined need or idea moot. In doubling the size of his leader discography, pianist Randy Ingram exponentially increases the listener’s need for more recordings, and the sooner the better.
An essential process in the creation of art is taking influences and refracting them prismatically into something new. Pianist Randy Ingram begins with the historical figures of jazz music and connects them with contemporary styles and practices. On his new recording Sky/Lift, Ingram has looked to his hero pianist Bill Evans’s collaboration with guitarist Jim Hall and their sublime textures, adapting them to his quartet featuring guitarist Mike Moreno. Along with bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jochen Rueckert, the ensemble plunges into a collection of Ingram’s fantastic original compositions.
Randy Ingram, piano
“A young pianist drawn to contemporary harmony and a sleek rhythmic sensibility” (The New York Times), Randy Ingram received his Bachelors degree for Jazz Performance at the University of Southern California, and his Masters of Music at The New England Conservatory. He was selected to attend the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program and is a winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s Award. He has toured with recording artists Samantha Ronson (Roc-a-Fella), Kristina Train (Blue Note) and Nikki Yanofksy (Decca/Universal), and performed and recorded with many more leading musicians.
Mike Moreno, guitar
Mike Moreno graduated from the New School University in New York City, later to tour with some of the most venerable names in the Jazz world, including The Joshua Redman Elastic Band, Lizz Wright Band, Nicholas Payton Quartet, Jason Moran, Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Gretchen Parlato, Aaron Parks, and more. Recognized as one of the leading voices in the new generation of the Jazz guitarists today, Mike has toured extensively and recorded as a leader of his own band, playing his original music to high critical acclaim.
Jochen Rueckert, drums
Jochen Rueckert started a quartet in 2009 and continues to play consistently with the group. He has since released an album called “somewhere, meeting nobody” in 2011 on Pirouet records in Germany, containing original songs by Mr. Rueckert. He also composes electronic music (three full albums, an EP and remixes, to date) under the alias Wolff Parkinson White.
Matt Clohesy, bass
Matt Clohesy, Australian bassist left his hometown of Melbourne for the USA in 2001. Based in New York City, he has since gained much recognition as an acoustic and electric bassist worldwide. Clohesy is regularly involved with Grammy nominated and Downbeat award winning composer Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and has been called upon to tour and/or record with such notable band leaders as Seamus Blake, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Geoffrey Keezer, Eric Reed, Kevin Hays and Ingrid Jensen among many others.